Indo-U.S. Advanced Bioenergy Consortium launches

A new Indo-U.S. Advanced Bioenergy Consortium for Second Generation Biofuels (IUABC) has been launched. Partners include the government of India’s Department of Biotechnology, Indian corporate leaders and Washington University in St. Louis, who have invested $2.5 million in the consortium. The IUABC is a joint bi-national center led by Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), the Indian Institute of Technology in Bombay (IITB), and Washington University.

dreamstime_xs_44872276The Indian transportation fuel infrastructure is undergoing massive transformation due to increased consumer demand and a growing population, which is estimated to reach 1.6 billion by 2050.

“Biofuels are an essential solution to this demand challenge, not only to bridge the supply between traditional fossil fuels and consumer demand, but to deliver better environmental performance,” said Himadri Pakrasi, PhD, director of I-CARES, Washington University’s center for research on energy, the environment and sustainability, and the university’s McDonnell International Scholars Academy ambassador to JNU. “Over the next three years, the IUABC will invest significantly in the knowledge base in India and the U.S. to meet this challenge.”

The goal of the center is to increase biomass yield in plants and algae, enabling downstream commercial development for cost-effective, efficient and environmentally sustainable production of advanced biofuels.

The lead organizations are all members of the McDonnell International Scholars Academy and the new consortium strengthens this relationship.

E85 “Post Your Price” Contest

Fuel prices are on the decline and the Renewable Fuels Association wants to know how low E85 is at your station.

Flex Fuel Pump at Hy-Vee Mills Civic Parkway in Des Moines IA 6-16-14In an effort to promote E85 (85 percent ethanol, 15 percent gasoline) sales and track E85 prices, RFA is offering the opportunity to win FREE E85 for one year with a simple snap of a camera and click of a mouse. All you have to do is submit a photo of an E85 pump to www.chooseethanol.com/PostYourPrice and the winner will be drawn at random. E85 is currently sold at more than 3,440 stations and is approved for use in all flex-fuel vehicles.

“The more information we collect on E85 prices, the more we are able to track and ensure consumers receive a fair price for the high-octane, environmentally-friendly fuel. We hope consumers have fun with this contest, but also understand the cost-saving benefits of higher-level ethanol blends,” stated Bob Dinneen, president and CEO of the RFA.

E85 offers tremendous price savings for consumers, often being sold at $0.75–1.00/gallon less than E10 gasoline. However, RFA recently uncovered signs of price gouging in the St. Louis market during the 2014 summer driving season. It examined retail E85 prices at nine Big Oil-branded stations, finding an average E85 price of $3.48/gallon while the average E10 price stood at $3.45/gallon. The St. Louis retail price for E85 was surprising, given that wholesale E85 prices in St. Louis averaged $2.58/gallon compared to $2.93/gallon for E10. When factoring in RFS RIN prices, locally-available ethanol prices, hydrocarbon blendstock, and a more typical markup, RFA concluded that E85 could have been sold to consumers at retail prices as low as $2.44–2.55/gallon.

In addition to an overall winner, two others will be chosen receive free E85 for a month. This award will be given to the individual who posts a photo of the largest gap between E85 and regular unleaded gasoline and the individual who posts a photo of the smallest gap between E85 and regular unleaded gasoline.

Find out more about the contest here.

Teen Biodiesel Maker Honored with HALO

Jessie J, Nick Cannon, Lulu Cerone, Yash Gupta, Alanna Wall, Nicholas Lowinger, Cassandra LinIt’s no secret that we think the folks who make biodiesel are angels, but one actually now will get her own HALO! Cassandra Lin, a teenager from Westerly, Rhode Island is part of that area’s Project TGIF, Turn Grease Into Fuel, a student-led project where restaurants and residents recycle their waste cooking oil, it gets turned into biodiesel and is donated to charity to support families who require heating assistance. She’ll be honored by the kids’ TV network Nickelodeon with one of its HALO – Helping and Leading Others – awards. The star-studded musical event is being held in New York City and showing across all Nickelodeon networks, streaming on the Nick.com website and the Nick app on Sunday, Nov. 30, at 7 p.m. (ET/PT).

“We’re taking over New York City with the hottest music performers and the most awe-inspiring kids for one huge fun night at this year’s Nickelodeon HALO Awards,” said [pop music star Nick] Cannon. “The HALO Awards embodies the altruistic spirit of the holidays with its positive message and I can’t wait to celebrate the terrific work of these young heroes.”

If you live in Rhode Island, Project TGIF has more information about drop-off locations and details on its website.

NBB: Soy, Livestock and Biodiesel Go Together

As the world celebrated World Food Day yesterday, the folks at the National Biodiesel Board (NBB), along with their friends at the American Soybean Association (ASA), make the case that the biodiesel industry, soybean growers and livestock producers are an important part of the food chain.
NBBworldfoodday1
“The world has a protein gap that needs to be filled,” said American Soybean Association World Initiative for Soy in Human Health Chairman Andy Welden. “Our crop offers soybean meal for livestock feed and human food, which at the same time, creates an abundant supply of soybean oil for biodiesel.”

October 16 is annually recognized as World Food Day. The 2014 Theme is Family Farming; Feeding the world, caring for the earth. The United States produces more than 3.2 billion bushels of soybeans a year, offering an abundant supply of meal for human foods and livestock feeds as well as oil for biodiesel and other uses. U.S. soybean growers also participate in support sustainability programs for conservation and other environmental practices.

NBB also pointed that increased biodiesel production benefits poultry and livestock farmers, as increased amounts of soy oil for biodiesel production also means more soy meal is available for livestock feed and human food. The group added that, according to the United Nations, 805 million people are estimated to be chronically undernourished in 2012–14. But that number is actually down more than 100 million over the last decade, in no small part because of the ASA’s World Initiative for Soy in Human Health (WISHH) that assists developing country entrepreneurs and leaders in filling the “protein gap” with nutritious soy-based foods as well as livestock and aquaculture feeds.

Along with reducing the cost of livestock feed, biodiesel also adds value to animal fats. In 2013 demand for fats and oils for biodiesel production increased the value of beef tallow an estimated $567 million, pork fat an estimated $165 million, and poultry fat by more than $51 million, making the production of animal protein more economical.

Ethanol Advocacy App

ethanol-report-adIf you’re an ethanol advocate, there’s an app for that from the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA).

In this edition of the Ethanol Report, RFA president and CEO Bob Dinneen talks about the new app, what it does, who should use it, and why they developed it. He also comments on when we might yet see a final rule on the 2014 volume requirements under the Renewable Fuel Standard and how railway transportation issues continue to impact the industry.

Ethanol Report on New Advocacy App

BYD Motors Debuts Largest Battery Powered EV

The world has been introduced to the largest batter powered vehicle developed by BYD Motors. The company unveiled the double barreled EV bus during the 2014 American Public Transportation Association (APTA) Expo in Houston, Texas this week. During a ceremony, attendees were invited by VP Michael Austin to, “throw off the shackles of a single-fueled system – an electric platform is ‘adaptable’ – it becomes cleaner as you do, through the use of renewable wind, water and solar renewable power generation.

60-foot BYD transit busAustin challenged the status-quo of those promoting fossil fuels as a clean alternative. “The consequences of our choices today will leave a legacy that our children will live with, both environmentally and economically, for decades into the future.”

The Lancaster eBus, a 60-foot, articulated battery-electric bus, can drive 170+ miles with a passenger load of up to 120 people. “BYD’s mission is to create safer and more environmentally-friendly battery technologies. This has resulted in the BYD Iron-Phosphate Battery, a fire-safe, completely recyclable, and incredibly long-cycle technology — the foundation of BYD’s Electric buses,” BYD Motors Fleet Sales Vice President, Brendan Riley. “These buses run entirely off battery power lasting up to 24 hours on a single charge, with single off-peak charging time of 2-4 hours. No additional generation capacity is needed to be built to charge our buses at night since the grid is only 40% utilized.

Also on display at the BYD Exhibit was a 40-foot, Battery-electric Transit bus from Antelope Valley Transit Authority. AVTA Board Chairman Norm Hickling boasted that the 40-foot bus on the Expo show floor was the only bus, “that drove over 1500 zero-emission miles from Los Angeles all the way to Houston for the Expo under its own power.”

AVTA tested BYD buses in the hottest part of the Lancaster, California summer in August with full air-conditioning running and with 5250 pounds of sand bags to simulate a full passenger load. Hickling added, “We drove nearly 100 miles more than BYD advertises — up to 250 miles per bus charge and we covered almost 750 miles in 24 hours! We are very impressed with BYD technology and quality. The most interesting news about this 1500 mile journey to Texas is that it was completed for $200 in electricity–the lowest cost trip to the show of all buses.”

Has RFS Uncertainty Hurt Your Community?

New Holland ZimmPollOur latest ZimmPoll asked the question, “Are you ready for MyFarmRadio on your mobile device?”

Don’t worry if you are part of the majority and have never heard of MyFarmRadio. We won’t accuse you of living under a rock just yet, because it is still very new. On November 3rd the new platform MyFarmRadio will launch. The 24/7 digital mobile radio channel will focus on a mix of best-in-class news, weather and markets along with entertaining and informative conversation for America’s farmers and ranchers. The app will allow listeners to pick and choose what they want to hear – and when they want to hear it.

Here are the poll results:

  • Yes, plan to get the app – 22%
  • Yes, want to know more – 17%
  • No, only listen on my radio – 6%
  • No, get my farm news other ways – 22%
  • What’s MyFarmRadio? – 33%

Our new ZimmPoll is now live and asks the question, Has the uncertainty for the RFS caused by the EPA hurt your community?

The Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) has been facing more than a year of uncertainty as the biofuels industry waits for the final 2014 rule that will determine the final renewable fuel volumes. Renewable fuel categories include ethanol, biodiesel, cellulosic and advanced biofuels. What impact has this had on your community?

EPA Admin McCarthy Visits FuelCell Energy

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Gina McCarthy visited FuelCell Energy this week to get a tour of the 15 MW Dominion Bridgeport fuel cell park. The company showcased the affordability of fuel cell solutions. According to FuelCell Energy, distributed fuel cell power generation enhances the resiliency of the electric grid with low carbon power production and low emissions.

“I’m excited to have EPA Administrator McCarthy in Bridgeport and that our efforts to become one of the greenest cities in America are being recognized nationally,” said Mayor Bill Finch. “We are home to the Bridgeport fuel cell park, which has fueled green job growth and powers up to 15,000 homes at any given time with virtually pollutant free energy.”

FuelCell EPA visitDuring her public remarks at the Bridgeport fuel cell park, Administrator McCarthy commented that now is the time to embrace a clean energy future and that innovative solutions such as the Bridgeport fuel cell park reflect the pathway for American energy security and ingenuity.

John Smatlak, VP of Power Generation Technical Services for Dominion said the company is pleased to have added 15 MW of renewable fuel cell energy in Connecticut to their existing 2,100 MW of power from their Millstone Power Station along with their Somers Solar Facility that produces 5 MW. “These stations are generating clean, reliable electricity for Connecticut and it was a pleasure to share that with Administrator McCarthy.”

The project is located on a remediated brownfield site in an industrial area of Bridgeport, Connecticut, using only about 1 1/2 acres of land to provide 15 megawatts of continuous renewable power.

“Our fuel cell power plants are at the confluence of energy, environmental and economic policy,” added Chip Bottone, president and CEO of FuelCell Energy, Inc. “Megawatt scale fuel cell plants are part of the portfolio to rebuild our energy infrastructure. Low carbon power generation that is virtually absent of pollutants enables siting the power plants in urban areas and the continuous distributed power generation enhances resiliency of the electric grid.”

BioEnergy Bytes

  • BioEnergyBytesDFMinneapolis-based solar specialists JJR Power have announced they are carving out a niche by helping customers navigate the complex financial waters. The company works with businesses, schools, nonprofits and farms, assisting them in gaining the clear economic value that solar can provide when coupled with the available incentives.
  • A student team at the University of Missouri-Columbia (UMC) will receive $14,874 from EPA to study the feasibility of treating food waste mixed with swine manure and gather data from the process related to energy use, greenhouse gases and recovered nutrients. The UMC project is one of only 42 student team projects funded this year in Phase I of EPA’s People, Prosperity and the Planet (P3) program. The P3 program is designed to stimulate the development of projects and designs that deliver sustainable, alternative approaches to address environmental challenges.
  • Lallemand Biofuels & Distilled Spirits has promoted Craig Ammann to the position of Director of Sales – North America. Craig is responsible for leading, communicating and directing the Regional Sales, Technical and Product Managers within this group.
  • Admirals Bank, a national leader in residential solar and renewable energy financing, is announcing the addition of two new residential loan products to its suite of innovative financing options: The FastTrack and FastTrack Deferred loan programs. These products allow for faster loan approval times, a more seamless application process, and enhanced service levels and availability. The FastTrack program will be offered through a dealer program.

Algal Industry Questions Focus on Biofuels, America

Matt Carr, joined the Algae Biomass Organization this past June as the executive director coming from the BIO (Biotechnology Industry Organization) where he was introduced to algae and the algae story and he thought this is where the country should be going in terms of sustainable fuels. Carr joined Joe Jobe, NBB and Michael McAdams, Advanced Biofuels Association on a panel to give attendees of the 2014 National Advanced Biofuels Conference a policy update and industry outlook for advanced biofuels.

“We’re in a tough spot,” said Carr when asked the state of the algal industry. “The advanced biofuels sector grew up on the backs of strong federal policy support, R&D funding from the Department of Energy in the early days along with the nabce-14-carrRenewable Fuel Standard (RFS) and tax policy. Right now all of those areas are uncertain and its causing our members and other across the advanced biofuels industry to question their focus on fuels and their focus on America and to look at other markets in other countries to potentially deploy that technology.”

With elections coming up, Carr was asked if he thinks the political environment will change. He said that the industry is at a point now where it has to see something change. “When we have conservative Republicans recognizing its Washington getting in the way of American innovation and job creation we’ve reached a tipping point.”

What stood out for Carr as part of the panel was the shared sense of frustration with Washington. But he is hopeful that both sides of the spectrum can come together and recognize the opportunity the country has in advanced biofuels.

Interview with Matt Carr, Algae Biomass Organization
Remarks from Matt Carr, Algae Biomass Organization

2014 National Advanced Biofuels Conference & Expo Photo Album

Coverage of The Advanced Biofuels Conference and Expo is sponsored by
Coverage of The Advanced Biofuels Conference and Expo is sponsored by New Holland

Honeywell’s UOP Tech for Military’s Renewable Diesel

honeywell-uop-logoTechnology from Honeywell’s UOP LLC will be used to produce renewable diesel. This company news release says the technology was secured under the U.S. Department of Defense Advanced Drop-in Biofuels Production Project.

Emerald Biofuels LLC will use Honeywell’s UOP/Eni Ecofining™ process technology to refine non-edible oils and animal fats into renewable diesel, also known as Honeywell Green Diesel™, which is a drop-in replacement for conventional diesel derived from petroleum.

Emerald is being supported by a $70 million contract from the Defense department project, which is focused on creating economically viable production capacity for advanced drop-in biofuels, including feedstocks, refining, transportation and logistics. Emerald is expected to produce 85 million gallons of renewable diesel per year under the project.

“Our renewable process technology leverages UOP’s 100 years of refining expertise to produce Honeywell Green Diesel, a drop-in diesel that, unlike biodiesel, is chemically identical to petroleum-derived diesel and does not require changes to engines or fuel infrastructure,” said Veronica May, vice president and general manager of UOP’s Renewable Energy and Chemicals business unit. “This proven technology is being used in commercial production today.”

The Advanced Drop-in Biofuels Production Project is the military’s program to create assured, affordable and economically viable production capabilities and capacities for items, such as drop-in renewable fuels, essential to national defense.

For the last two years, UOP has licensed Ecofining technology to Emerald to produce 85 million gallons per year of Honeywell Green Diesel at a facility on the Gulf Coast. Ecofining technology is also being used by Diamond Green Diesel in Norco, La., to produce renewable diesel from used cooking oil and other feedstocks.

Researchers to Turn Biomass into Plastic

While turning biomass into energy has been most of the talk, some researchers are looking at turning biomass into a more valuable product: plastic. This article from the University of Wisconsin-Madison says researchers at that school, along with scientists from the University of Minnesota and Argonne National Laboratory, will use a $3.3 million U.S. Department of Energy grant to explore ways to produce renewable plastic precursors and other substances from biomass.

huber1“We’re trying to make very high-value commodity chemicals from biomass that can be used to make different kinds of plastics and plasticizers,” says George W. Huber, a professor of chemical and biological engineering at UW-Madison. “So many people have been focusing on fuels, which are a pretty low-value product — $600 or $700 per ton — but we’re going to be making products that are worth more than $5,000 per ton.”

Joining Huber on the UW-Madison portion of the grant are Professor of Chemical and Biological Engineering James A. Dumesic; chemical and biological engineering Professor Christos Maravelias; chemical and biological engineering research Professor Bill Banholzer; and chemistry Associate Professor Ive Hermans. This team of researchers, who also are affiliated with the Wisconsin Energy Institute, bring to the project combined expertise in biomass conversion, process design, techo-economic modeling of biochemical and biofuels production, and catalysis.

Researchers at Argonne will provide high-throughput tools for screening large amounts of catalysts used in the biomass-conversion process, and University of Minnesota researchers will contribute expertise in separating products from the reactants and solvents used in their production.

The three-year project involves both elaborating the basic scientific principles involved in converting biomass into useful chemicals that are otherwise petroleum-derived, as well as developing efficient processes that can be scaled up in order to make bio-based production more competitive with petroleum refining.

Tips for Biofuel Investment In Turbulent Times

As a biofuels plant, how do you make sound plant management and investment decisions in an environment of political turmoil? This was the theme of one of the panel discussions during the 2014 National Advanced Biofuels Conference that nabc plant management paneltook place in Minnesota this week. The conversation focused on how the uncertainty surrounding the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) that has not been finalized for 2014 as of this writing, affects decisions made for biofuels plants. The panelists discussed tips and strategies on how they try to keep their business healthy and growing while also trying to position themselves for continued, future success.

Insights were given by Mike Jerke, CEO, Guardian Energy Management LLC; Brian Kletscher, CEO/General Manager, Highwater Ethanol; and Randall Doyal, CEO/General Manager, AL-Corn Clean Fuel who all run currently operating ethanol production facilities. While each one pointed to the prices of feedstocks as being the number one cost of production (feedstock costs are 80 percent of a plant’s production costs) there are other ways to streamline efficiencies to stay competitive and one strategy is to diversify into bolt on advanced biofuels technologies.

Doyal noted that the big takeaway for the attendees was that the existing ethanol industry is looking at those next generation biofuel opportunities. “They look down the road all the time, and that the existing ethanol plants are not Gen 1 – we’re way down the road from Gen 1. We’re far more advanced than that and we look forward to bringing that type of thinking into advanced biofuels,” Doyal said.

When focusing on policy, Doyal said policy directly affects a plant when it decides how to deploy its capital. “If you have uncertainty in policy, it creates an uncertain environment in the lending community and it creates uncertainty in your own board room.”

Doyal stressed, “If you don’t have good, consistent, clear policy, it’s hard to figure out your path forward.”

Listen here to Chuck’s interview with Randall Doyal speaking about how policy uncertainty affects plant decisions: Interview with Randall Doyal, AL-Corn Clean Fuel

Click here to listen to the comments of the three panelists:
Remarks from Mike Jerke, Guardian Energy Management
Remarks from Brian Kletscher, Highwater Ethanol
Remarks from Randall Doyal, AL-Corn Clean Fuel

2014 National Advanced Biofuels Conference & Expo Photo Album

Coverage of The Advanced Biofuels Conference and Expo is sponsored by
Coverage of The Advanced Biofuels Conference and Expo is sponsored by New Holland

NBB Cautiously Optimistic About RFS

“We’ve exceeded the goals of advanced biofuels. Then we had the devastating proposed rule that has gone on for a year now. We are cautiously optimistic that we’ll have something here within the next few weeks and that it will be positive,” said Joe Jobe, CEO of the National Biodiesel Board (NBB) who was one of the panel members of panel that discussed federal biofuels policy and the long-term prognosis of the advanced biofuels industry. The discussion was part of the National Advanced Biofuels Conference that recently took place in Minnesota and also included a robust discussion on the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).

nabce-14-Joe Jobe NBBJobe noted that the biofuels industry and particularly the advanced biofuels industry is beleaguered. “We’ve been under attack by uncertain policy signals, but we need to keep up the fight and double down on the fight. We need to get more of our message out there. We need to get more involved in policy advocacy, we need to get the RFS working again,” said Jobe.

The industry has demonstrated the RFS can work well said Jobe. “We created it to be a stable energy policy.”

Last year was a record breaker for the biodiesel industry – it grew from producing just over one billion gallons in 2012 to just under 2 billion gallons in 2013. “Advanced biofuels are here. The industry has exceeded the goals of advanced biofuels,” Jobe stressed.

The policy discussion will continue during the 2015 National Biodiesel Board Conference & Expo taking place in Ft. Forth, Texas January 19-22. Registration is open.

Jobe urges the industry to step up its advocacy efforts and its policy efforts to ensure the future of the advanced biofuels industry.

Interview with Joe Jobe, National Biodiesel Board
Remarks from Joe Jobe, National Biodiesel Board

2014 National Advanced Biofuels Conference & Expo Photo Album

Coverage of The Advanced Biofuels Conference and Expo is sponsored by
Coverage of The Advanced Biofuels Conference and Expo is sponsored by New Holland

Get the New RFA Advocacy App

RFA Advocacy AppThe Renewable Fuels Association has just announced a new mobile app – RFA Advocacy.

The app is free of charge and available to download on all iPhones and Android-powered smartphones. The app offers easy access to RFA’s talking points, charts, videos, and infographics. It also features RFA’s newsfeed, maps of Capitol Hill, a one-stop social media sharing platform, and easy-to-use legislative tracking of key bills and votes.

“We wanted to offer a mobile one-stop-shop for all key ethanol-related information,” said Bob Dinneen, president and CEO of the RFA, when discussing the new app. “RFA’s mobile app offers something for everyone. There are talking points to help counter the fictional food vs. fuel argument, information on cellulosic ethanol, and a list of 75 facts about ethanol. RFA’s technical expertise is easily accessible with a touch of the charts, videos, or infographics sections. Additionally, anyone interested in contacting their Member of Congress can easily locate them as well as submit an opinion on key ethanol-related legislation all without leaving the app.”

Dinneen continued, “It is my hope that this new technology will give individuals the tools they need to combat attacks against the ethanol industry, inform friends and family about the benefits of ethanol, and remain engaged in ethanol-related policymaking and legislation.”

Search for it in the iTunes App Store and Google Play.